Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Scene from a story

Whatever drove Harold Westerberg to lose his reason will remain a mystery, but the effects of his actions rocked his own little world. Harry (as he was known) had been discovered on the open highway on a Wednesday night slumped against his car, higher than a kite, and still puffing at the spent ends of cannabis joints when the highway patrolman reached him. His pristinely kept Saab an absolute wreck, all scratched and dented down one side, and strewn with an assortment of bottles, empty syringes, and some suspicious shiny packets. One might have expected a lout, no less, in the midst of these items with matted shirt and twisted tangled hair, cooing a soft melody from Dylan or Blunt. Yet here was a man dressed tip to toe on point, as though he were a functionary at a splendid gala or ball. More baffling was that his appearance seemed scarcely touched by the noxious chemicals about and within him. The shirt was still unsmudged, the tie in place, and his jacket lay open at the breast. Evidently this nasty bout had failed to produce in him the image of dissolution. 

When he was found, groggy and delirious against the passenger door, his curling hair brushing against the handle, and his lips spluttering some indistinguishable sound, Harry was cold and pale. The patrolman shook his slightly by the shoulder, now speaking in a slow, tidy voice, and held a finger before those beady eyes set closely in a corpulent round face, which were struggling to cross and lock upon it. The officer sighed and muttered briefly into his radio. Then turning again to the gibbering man, he reached into his breast pocket, drawing out a slim wallet carrying all the details of his immediate identity. A few minutes of flipping and fumbling under the unsteady beam of a penlight produced what he needed. Now he replaced the wallet and helped Harry to his feet, lifting him beneath the arms and guiding him back toward to own flashing vehicle. Settling Mr. Westerberg in the rear passenger seat, Officer Brady returned to secure the exhausted motor vehicle. Then, climbing into his cruiser he gently moved off--with Harry still mumbling--his headlights searing a trail through the thickening dusk.